Rutgers and coach Greg Schiano have agreed in principle to an eight-year contract that will make him the school’s next head coach, sources told Yahoo Sports on Saturday night. The school’s board of governors still needs to approve the deal, which is common in these types of negotiations.
The contract is expected to be finalized soon, and it caps a wild week that saw talks break off, former governors dueling and enough plot twists to make “Sopranos” screenwriters dizzy.
Ultimately, the same type of fan groundswell that cost Schiano the Tennessee job a year ago brought him back into the mix at Rutgers. Season-ticket holders revolted, donors threatened to stop donating and Rutgers officials came to realize that Schiano was the only coaching alternative that would satisfy their dwindling fan base.
Schiano coached Rutgers to unprecedented heights from 2001 to 2011, an 11-year run that helped position the school to enter the Big Ten. Since that time, the school has free-fallen from its brief window of relevance. And with that dive has come a desperation amongst a fan base so visceral that they feel Schiano is the only coach capable of pulling them from the Big Ten basement.
Schiano met with school officials nearly three weeks ago in his Columbus-area home. The discussions in the ensuing time revolved around the school’s willingness to commit to competing in the Big Ten in the long term.
Schiano’s deal is expected to be what was discussed prior to the talks breaking down – eight years at $32 million. Since the talks fell apart on Sunday, both sides made concessions to make the deal happen.
During that initial meeting and since, Schiano has pushed for standards of investment to which he felt would allow Rutgers to eventually become competitive in the Big Ten. The focus of the talks were the necessity of a deep staff salary pool, support staff pool and significant facility improvements, all of which will involve a considerable increase from current standards.
Rutgers (2-10, 0-9 Big Ten) is considered the worst Power Five program in college football, and it may take years to shake that label.
Chris Ash went 3-26 in the Big Ten before being fired in late September, which was early in his fourth season. He had taken over for Kyle Flood, who went 4-12 in two seasons in the Big Ten.
The hire shows that the school is attempting to recreate the best run in school history, as Rutgers emerged as a consistent contender in the Big East. The highlight under Schiano came in 2006 when Rutgers went 11-2 and reached as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press poll. He’s taken this season off after ending a brief stint as the defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots to spend more time with his family.
Prior to that, Schiano served as the Ohio State defensive coordinator for three seasons. Schiano finished at Rutgers with a 68-67 record and a 5-1 record in bowl games. He left there for two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he went 11-21 in 2012 and 2013.
Now he’s back in New Jersey. The people have spoken, and the momentum from their anger at Rutgers officials paved the way for Schiano’s return.
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